With Father Christmas taking up temporary residence at Eden this winter as he prepares for the big day, it’s only right that he’d bring his reindeer along with him. We’ve built a special pen to make it nice and cosy for the reindeer.
Come along and see them: they’ll be here to meet every day from 23 November to 30 December (except 24 and 25 December, when they’ll be very busy!). The opportunities to meet Father Christmas at Eden this Christmas are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment. Book online here
See if you can spot the reindeer on our live webcam.
- Father Christmas’s sleigh is, of course, pulled by flying reindeer. He lives at the North Pole, in the natural habitat of reindeer, so it’s natural that he’d choose them to pull his sleigh.
- Their names – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen – were first mentioned in in Clement C Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas” (also known as “A Visit from St Nicholas”) in 1823. It wasn’t until 1939 that Rudolph was mentioned in a poem written by Robert L May for a chain of American department stores.
- Reindeer have been herded in the Arctic for centuries by indigenous peoples such as the Sami. You can hear traditional Sami stories being told in a beautiful lavvu tent next to the reindeer pen at Eden this winter.
- Reindeer are known as caribou in North America.
- The soft fur on reindeer antlers is called velvet.
Welfare of the reindeer at Eden
The reindeer have been brought to Eden by Real Reindeer, who are committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare.
Angie Flint, of Real Reindeer, says: “Our herd originates from a large herd of reindeer kept by our friends in northern Sweden. The reindeer begin the domesticating and taming process in Sweden to ensure that their journey to the UK is not too stressful. We transport them ourselves to ensure their specific requirements are met.
“Our reindeer adapt extremely well to the UK climate. Although they are able to withstand the extremes of temperature in the Arctic Circle, they moult their winter coat in the spring and have a much finer summer coat.
“In northern Sweden the summer is very similar to ours with temperatures reaching approximately 28ºC. At our farm the reindeer have a range of paddocks and 24-hour access to a 17th century stone dovecote, which stays wonderfully cool with the thick stone walls.
“Reindeer husbandry is a very specialised skill and as such bears enormous responsibility on the herder. We have supported the Veterinary Laboratories Association on the production of articles about reindeer ownership in the UK.
“All reindeer should have bright eyes, well cared for feet and a shiny coat. At events, they should be relaxed enough to lie down, eat and drink. This means they have been trained correctly. We meet many people all over the country who comment that our reindeer are the healthiest looking they have seen.
“We are also supported by committed vets who have worked with us to acquire essential knowledge in the treatment and care of reindeer in the UK.
“We feed the reindeer a very specific diet, which is controlled by their handlers, so we’re asking visitors to Eden to not feed them anything else, please!”